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Author Topic: Why some prefer steam and others diesel  (Read 9732 times)
Skarloey Railway

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« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2012, 03:34:27 PM »

If I followed what I saw around me when growing up it would be 'Hastings' DMUs and class 33 diesels, since that's all that worked on the nearest rail line (I'm a Brit) further off were a few preserved steam railways and I guess something of that stuck in my blood because my interest has always been steam. Thein around 1971 I read Tom Rolt's account of saving the Talyllyn Railway and my interest shifted purely to NG. Alongside this were TV westerns, both film and series (Caey Jones, being a prime example) that got me interested in early period US railroads. Add them together and my interest now is mostly US NG circa 1870-1925.

That said, it may be just something about me. I'm 51 but I don't wallow nostalgically in the music or culture I used to be part of and my taste in most things is pretty wide so my interest in RRs is the same. Of course, over where I am, not following the Great Western Railway classes me as unusual Wink
« Last Edit: June 10, 2012, 04:43:04 PM by Skarloey Railway » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2012, 04:17:01 PM »

I have to say I am fond of both.

I always liked steam. When I was a kid there was a steamer that came into

Chicago Union Station every year and I would beg my Dad to take me to see it.

My Dad loved trains too and he would take the whole family and we would make it a "Downtown Chicago" day.


We had Chicago&Northwestern and Milwaukee Road running F-3's and there was

something about those F-3's that had me also fond of them.

My Dad pulled us kids out of school so we could make one of the last runs to

California on the Santa-Fe El Capitan. I still remember that trip. The porters were

so nice I remember getting extra portions of food and ice cream.

When I was an exchange student in the then East Germany I road old World War 2

steam trains with the big DR(Deutsche Reich) on the side of each passenger car.

What a thrill !!!!

Back in the mid '90's while I was in Residency a Pharm Company took us out on

a dinner train and it was the old El Capitan Santa-Fe F-3 engine and B-Unit attached.

I think I almost choked up. Once I was married a year later I got back into trains

because I wanted one around the Christmas Tree and one by one  that got my kids interested

and now we are building our layout in the basement. I have picked up Williams

Steamers and Diesels including the GG-1's. The most modern one I have is a GP-7

at this time. I don't particularly care for current production models as they all look

all look alike. BUT more and more i am starting to see small lines pick up and rehab

and paint GP-7's  GP_9's and those NW-2 switchers. Driving through Chicago on

I-94 around North Ave I see a repainted GP-7 in Union Pacific Colors and a NW-2

Switcher in a nice Tuscan Red  that has Chicago and .....(can't make out the last

name. Even in Indiana I am seeing some older stuff from time to time.

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« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2012, 12:27:16 PM »

there is still stuff from the transition era, just not in revenue service. norfolk southern, for one, still has southern gondolas from the 1930s in m of w service. you have to look for it but it's still out there.

During the late 1980's I saw some leftover transition era freight cars at Newberry Junction, PA.  There were PRR X-29 boxcars in mow service, and a few old 1950's (build date) gondolas still in revenue service at that time.  They are all long gone.

I pass by Enola Yard several times per day.  The mow gondolas are of all welded construction, generally Southern Railway, but 1960's or later build date cars.

Conrail and subsequently NS have used 1970's built all-welded Bethlehem Steel gondolas for mow service in the north--that's where several of the Reading Railroad class GHY cars ended up (though a few are still in revenue service).

Excepting two Erie Lackamoney 52' mill gondolas (exact car series modeled by Proto 2000)  I saw a couple years ago on a siding in the weeds at Harrisburg Yard, that appeared as if they hadn't moved anywhere in quite some time, I have not personally seen any legitimate transition era (not later rebuilds) freight cars in many years.

Assuming you are still finding some, you are very fortunate indeed. 

I photographed some of the last ones I had seen, and unfortunately, the photos weren't very good, and I'm just beyond railfanning anything now.

It helps that my one friend has already been detained by railroad police and if he ever so much as sets foot on one of the big eastern railroads again, he has been informed that he will be arrested for trespassing.  The idiot he was with gave up the driver's license to the railroad police cop--don't ever do that voluntarily--they log it and threaten you with prosecution the next time.

« Last Edit: June 11, 2012, 12:32:39 PM by 2-8-8-4 » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2012, 12:35:27 PM »

So for those reasons I'll stick to the available books and dvd's to assist my steam era modeling efforts.

Respectfully submitted--


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« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2012, 06:05:52 PM »

It's pretty bad when an industry that has "fans" chooses to treat them so shabbily.  While there are some legitimate security considerations these days, I think in a lot of cases this is just being used as an excuse to justify boorish behavior.

I would strongly recommend that railfans approached by railroad security police leave the property without an argument, but refuse to produce identification unless asked for it by actual police officers.  Railroad police are private security guards, and unless their authority is extended beyond company property (by being deputized), you are not obligated by law to follow their orders unless you are on company property.  If you are not on railroad property, the railroad police can call the civil police for assistance, but it is up to the civil police to determine if a law is being broken.

By the same token, if you are working for the railroad and are involved in a road crossing accident, do not give your identification to the civil police if you are on company property.  Once I was in a car-train accident where two boys drove a car into the side of my train.  Soon afterward, my car insurance took a steep hike.
When I asked why, I was told it was because I was involved in a car-train accident.  Yes, I was.  I was driving the train.  The rate increase was soon removed.

There are unfortunately people in this country who feel that a heightened security awareness means depriving law-abiding people of their rights.  These guys cannot figure out the difference between railfans and terrorists.  Their stupidity thus accomplishes one of the goals of the terrorists.


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« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2012, 06:33:26 PM »

bottom line: stay off the railroad property unless you are legally entitled to be there. this is not the 1980s, and you can no longer get away with driving into a facility and taking a few photos. if you can manage to get with a group touring a facility you are ok.

boorish behaviour is not just restricted to railroad police. security guards and even real police tend to attract those with a napoleon complex. fortunately, most of the police are pretty nice once they see you are only taking a few photos from public property. still, there are a few with a bad attitude, and if you give them a hard time you will lose.

there are still plenty of good experiences to be had watching trains. even if, like me, you have no intention of modelling anything running to-day, it's still worthwhile to experience the thril.

Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA

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« Reply #21 on: June 12, 2012, 12:16:52 AM »

Whether railroad police are actual police officers varies from place to place. Many ARE sworn peace officers who have every right to see ID. You can usually tell by the badge; real police badges have the state seal while rent-a-cops' badges don't.

I'm not sure what is the positive payoff for refusing to show ID, especially if we're hoping the officer will cut us a break, but make sure you aren't talking to a real cop if you do this. Trust me; you don't want a failure to cooperate with a police officer or obstructing justice arrest. Some cops will do this just to let you know who's boss.

The government has been worried about railroad security for a long while. They pulled many, many national park rangers and forest service rangers off of their regular duties so they could keep railroads, bridges, dams and nuclear plants under surveillance after 9/11. They trained railroad operating crews to watch for people watching trains and to call in the cavalry when they spotted someone, even persons NOT on railroad property. Add all of this to the railroads' security and liability concerns and you can see why bumming around a rail facility is likely to invite some awkward questions.

Contrary to an earlier poster's opinion, we have no constitutional or other right to go onto railroad (or any other not our own) property for any reason, or to stay there if instructed by police or railroad personnel to leave. Think of it as someone coming into your back yard, looking around, maybe opening things, taking a few photographs and peeking in the bedroom window. In either case, it is tresspassing, pure and simple. Yes, some railroads let us get away with this stuff a few decades ago but the lawyers put the kibosh on it even before 9/11. The fact that some railroads didn't enforce their tresspass rights doesn't mean that the tresspassers gained some kind of access easement. And is it stupidity to enforce tresspass rights against everybody, not just scary Arabic-looking terrorists (aka "profiling")? Not in the least. Enforcing the rights differentially would result in damages payouts by the railroads (or airports, land reclamation department, electric companies, et al.) and an inability to enforce the restrictions against anyone.

So ... stay off of private property and obey promptly if instructed to leave. Failing to do so or demanding non-existent rights could land you in jail.

                                                                                                                      -- D

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« Reply #22 on: June 12, 2012, 12:33:11 AM »


as a matter of fact back in the good old days many of us did get an "access easement."    it was called a release, and on many railroads you could walk into a facility, sign a release form stating you wouldn't sue them if you got hurt, and have free run of the facility. my dad and i were able to do this on many railroads, including but not limited to: western maryland, b&O, conrail, maine cantral, bangor & aroostook and southern. on most shortlines, you didn't even need to sign anything just let somebody know what you were up to. this was common practice 30-40 years ago.

as for constitutional rights, the courts have upheld the right to photograph what can be seen from public property, many times. it is fundamentally tied in with freedom of the press, as well as freedom of expression. matter of fact, a case of a train watcher being detained while pohotographing light rail trains from a station platform was recently decided in the photograqpher's favour. having paid the fare to ride the train gave him access rights to be on that platform. that is, of course, different from wandering around a busy freight yard without letting anybody know you're there. that is, and has always been, against the law.

Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA

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« Reply #23 on: June 12, 2012, 12:44:01 AM »

A precious few railroads still are fan friendly.

Reading & Northern is one.  Stop at the main office.  Go inside and speak to the adminstrative assistant and nicely explain that you are a railfan and wish to photograph some trains, and they'll tell you what's coming and what's where on the railroad.  If I recall, one signs in (their book) as well--and they'll let you have reasonably free reign of the yard area--within certain limits.  Then sign out when you leave...

If you treat them as professionals, and follow their instructions, they usually return the same courtesy to you.

The rules are for your safety--never walk within 25' of the end of a cut of cars, etc.--because the slack can run out and the coupler then may even have enough force behind it to go right through one's body on impact.

Best regards--

« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 12:47:20 AM by 2-8-8-4 » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: June 12, 2012, 12:41:41 PM »

If you are not a railroad employee, you need to stay off railroad property unless you are in an area that is expressly open to the public (like a passenger station).

If you are asked to leave railroad property by any railroad employee, you need to do just that.  Railroad police are spread very thin.  Even major railroads usually assign them only to trouble spots, like freight yards in major cities.  So it is likely the person who asks you to leave will not be a railroad policeman, but some other railroad employee.  I've never been a railroad policeman, but have frequently had to ask people to leave.

You do not have to show your ID to anyone but a legitimate law enforcement officer.  Anyone telling you they are a policeman is required to identify themselves as such.  You have a right to see this ID, to protect your own privacy.  A real police officer will understand that and will show you their ID.  It is a serious crime to misrepresent yourself as being a police officer, and the police understand that.

With very few exceptions, if you are on public property you are allowed to photograph anything you can see with your eyes.  Exceptions would be things like sensitive military operations (like photographing ICBM's being changed out from missile silos).  It is my understanding that it is illegal to photograph police officers performing their duty in the State of Illinois.  I'll leave it up to your imagination as to why.


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« Reply #25 on: June 12, 2012, 02:42:21 PM »

as a matter of fact back in the good old days many of us did get an "access easement."    it was called a release,

as for constitutional rights, the courts have upheld the right to photograph what can be seen from public property, many times.

different from wandering around a busy freight yard without letting anybody know you're there. that is, and has always been, against the law.


Yes, many railroads did let us run around on their property, without even a release in most cases. But that doesn't mean we now have an easement which allows us to do the same thing today. Our access remains strictly a matter of what the railroads will allow, so we had no and we have no access easement. If I let my neighbor build part of his driveway across my property and years later get angry at him and tell him to remove it, he probably won't have to do so. Why? Because my failure to block him initially implies approval on my part and will in all probability be viewed by the courts as having granted him an access easement. The railroads surrendered no such rights when they let us poke around their property so we never did nor do we have an access easement.

Please note that I didn't mention anything about taking photographs, so the first amendment issues you discussed are irrelevant to my point. I explicitly stated "we have no constitutional or other right to go onto railroad (or any other not our own) property for any reason, or to stay there if instructed by police or railroad personnel to leave." We can certainly take photographs but we have no rights whatsoever to enter or remain on railroad property. But don't be so sure that your Constitutional right to free speech will allow you to take photographs anywhere. If you doubt me, try to take photographs at Groom Lake or anywhere else where signs prohibit photography even from non-government property. You'll find yourself in custody if they choose to push it and you might find your equipment confiscated, too. Our various precious rights are very broad but they are not unlimited.

You are correct in pointing out that shooting pics from a station platform is different from wandering around railyards, and not just from a safety perspective. Bu that confirms my point: it is illegal to be on railroad property without permission, and the fact that railroads did not consistently enforce this in years past does not mean they can't enforce access restrictions today.

The long and the short of it is that we have no right whatsoever to enter railroad or other private property without the property owner's permission. Ignore this at your own peril.
                                                                                                                     -- D

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« Reply #26 on: June 13, 2012, 12:38:43 AM »

There is no Constitutional Right to trespass.

The point about taking the effort to ask permission to be on company property is well-taken.  This was something I made a point of doing when I was a railfan.  Seldom was I flatly refused, but sometimes conditions would be placed on where I went and what I did.

I have been given permission to enter an engine facility, provided I took no pictures.  I have also been kicked off a railroad after being given permission by another official.  Just do what you are told (but don't give up your ID).

I have been on both sides of this situation.  I think a lot depends on where the railroad facility is located.  In small cities and towns, it is normal for railroad company officers and train crews to know the local railfans.  The biggest problems I have had with trespassers is the danger they present to themselves.  I have seen them climb through trains (even moving ones), step on rails, stand next to the end of equipment, climb beneath cars, including loaded hazmat tanks.

Most serious railfans know better than to try things like that.  You can pick out the new ones just by how they act.

Big cities have their own trespass problems.  Here the trespassers are less apt to be railfans, and more apt to be real troublemakers.  This is why railroad police are concentrated there.  Left of cargo from freight cars is a major problem.  Big city rail yards are big areas with lots of cover.  Things can be done in there out of the public eye.  Thus they can turn into crime scenes for drug deals and worse.

I once worked in a major city freight yard.  Trespassers were constantly walking through the yard.  These guys gave me the creeps.  On 90-degree plus days, you would see them wearing long-sleeved hoodies with the hoods up and their faces so far back you could not see their eyes.  They would walk like zombies across the tracks, never looking right or left, as if in a trance.  They would not look up if I blew the horn at them.


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« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2012, 11:09:16 AM »

Just a quick note:

As rail fans let us stick to the Golden Rule

As a sovereign citizen of the United States of America we need to respect

each others property rights. You will score a lot of points and get a lot more

cooperation with added benefits if you get permission and seek out those in

authority to give prior approval for what you want to do.

Understand we live in a highly litigious society. There are those "looking to sue"

over any issue they can get money from. Railroads are only playing defensive

legally. But at the same time rail-fans play a big role in "getting the word out"

about railroads accomplishments and it is free advertising for them when you

go home and coffee clutch and talk about railroads in a positive manner!!!!

There was an article in TRAINS MAGAZINE about this new trend of non-railfan

teenagers getting their pictures taken on the train tracks!!!!! It's only a matter of


before some accident happens, a railroad is sued and ALL railroads forbid anyone

for what ever reason from going anywhere near their property!!!!

Bottom line: RESPECT RAILROAD PROPERTY!! Seek out someone who can give you

permission, better yet state what you want in writing have some supervisor sign it

or give you written permission.

Legally the hired RR Cops don't have Jurisdiction to ask you for ID BUT as a RailFan

YOU are an ambassador for your hobby and if Railfans have a reputation of being

friendly, cooperative, and respectful the railroads will be happy to accommodate you!!!

I personally have been a witness to the friendliness of a Railroad when I went with

a couple of my kids, sought out permission and proceeded to have a great time.!!!

On one occasion we had the local manager give us a personall tour of the yard and I

later brought some Cub-Scouts back with me and THEY want to take pictures. It's
great PR for them, all the visitors are happy, it gets the word out about Railroads,

and there is potentially some new kids interested in taking up this wonderful

Hobby!!!  The Railroads need us and we need them it's a win win if we just

follow the Golden Rule!!!!!!
Johnson Bar Jeff

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« Reply #28 on: June 13, 2012, 11:27:55 AM »

As much as I love and prefer steam, I have to admit to a soft spot for F-unit diesels and fluted-aluminum passenger cars.

This might be because when I was a very small boy, my grandparents gave me an American Flyer HO "Pacific Clipper" ("North Coast Limited") passenger set, which I still have.
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